BBC Scotland

One of broadcasting’s most experienced drama executives, Chris Aird, has been appointed as the Head of Drama for BBC Scotland.

Chris, who started his career at BBC Scotland, will return there to take up his new role in April 2012.

Currently Executive Producer for BBC Independent Drama, Chris has a strong track record across drama development, production and commissioning in both the BBC and the independent sector. His credits include Spooks, Hustle, Prisoners’ Wives, Inspector Lynley Mysteries, Casualty, Hotel Babylon and BBC One’s phenomenal Sunday night hit, Call The Midwife.

He started his BBC career in Scotland in 1995 where he was a Researcher/Director in News and Current Affairs. Following this, Chris worked extensively within BBC Drama and for leading drama Indies, Kudos and Carnival Film & Television. As well as television, he also has experience working within BBC Radio Drama including Radio 4’s Afternoon Play and the Friday Play.

Donalda MacKinnon, Head of Programmes and Services, Scotland, says: “We are delighted that Chris will be taking on the leadership of BBC Scotland drama at a very exciting time for the department with Waterloo Road moving to Scotland, our flagship drama River City in brilliant form and a strategy for growth planned in Scotland in the coming years. At BBC Scotland, Chris will be taking on a drama department in great shape and with a very exciting future ahead of it.”

Nick Brown, Director Drama Production, adds: “We are ambitious about developing and producing great in-house drama across the whole of the UK. Chris’s appointment in Scotland brings experience, great taste and lots of commitment to help us achieve that. I am really looking forward to working with him.”

Ben Stephenson, Controller, Drama Commissioning: “Chris is a fantastically talented and experienced executive who will bring all the energy, passion and creativity to his new job that he has bought to all his work over the years, including his work recently on mega hit Call The Midwife.”

Chris Aird: “I am tremendously excited at the prospect of developing and making a range of drama in Scotland. Drama at the BBC currently feels in rude health with hugely talented writers, directors and actors at the heart of everything we do. I can’t wait to get started.”

His appointment comes at an exciting time for BBC Scotland Drama with distinctive productions including Waterloo Road (BBC One), River City (BBC One Scotland), Lip Service (BBC Three), Case Histories (BBC One), and BAFTA Scotland award-winning Field Of Blood (BBC One Scotland) among its many credits.

Britain’s favourite tenor Alfie Boe comes straight from the West End to headline the Scottish finale to this year’s BBC Proms joining the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra in a spectacular event broadcast live from Dundee on Saturday 10 September.

Conducted by Stephen Bell, the SSO will lead this feast of music, introduced by Radio Scotland’s Kaye Adams and Jamie McDougall. Fabulous Scottish soprano Lisa Milne will be performing on the night as well as the young traditional musician of the year, Kristan Harvey, and the return of the Dundee Proms Chorus.

After last year’s phenomenal success the event returns to the Caird Hall in Dundee and will be screened on BBC Two Scotland and across the UK on Red Button, bringing a Scottish flavour to the finale of what has become the world’s greatest music festival. More acts are to be announced ahead of the concert.

At the age of 37 Alfie Boe is one of Britain’s favourite singers. His stunning performance as Jean Valjean in the award-winning 25th anniversary concert performance of Les Miserable at the O2 arena in London was one of the musical highlights of 2010. Boe, who sang in the concert at the personal request of Sir Cameron Mackintosh, is now taking on the role in the West End.

The former car mechanic shot to fame after he was discovered entertaining his workmates by singing operatic arias. Equally at home in the world of classical, pop or musical theatre, he starred in numerous productions at English National Opera and the Royal Opera House and in 2008 won a Tony award for his Rodolfo in Baz Luhrmann’s Broadway production of La Boheme. His popularity can be seen by the chart success of his latest album Bring Him Home.

Boe will join the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Stephen Bell whose exhilarating style means that an exciting time is guaranteed. Bell is increasingly in demand and as well as this return engagement to the SSO he has also conducted the Royal Philharmonic, the BBC Philharmonic, the Halle, the Britten Sinfonia and many others both here and abroad. His repertoire ranges from his trademark Elgar interpretations to the Doctor Who Prom.

One of Scotland’s most successful opera stars, renowned recitalist Lisa Milne made her professional debut as Gianetta in Scottish Opera’s production of L’Elisir d’Amore. Since then she has sung in roles ranging from Countess Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro to Despina in Cosi fan tutte. In concert her recent engagements include the Berlin Philharmonic with Rattle, and the New York Philharmonic with Harding.

While Alfie Boe is fast becoming one of the most popular artists in the UK, just starting out is 22-year-old Kristan Harvey, fresh from her success in being crowned BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year on 30 January. The young Orcadian fiddler faced stiff competition against five of Scotland’s finest talents at the City Halls in Glasgow in an event that was one of the highlights of this year’s Celtic Connections.

Jamie McDougall is one of the co-hosts of the celebrations. With his Classics Unwrapped show on Radio Scotland Jamie is Scotland’s voice of classical music. He has been the presenter for BBC Scotland’s Proms in the Park since its inception in 2002.

Jamie will be joined by Kaye Adams, one of Scotland’s best known radio and TV broadcasters. Her Radio Scotland programme Call Kaye and her appearances on the daytime chat show Loose Women have made her a favourite with audiences across the country.

Making a welcome return to the Caird Hall, by public demand, is the Dundee Proms Chorus. Last year 200 aspiring singers were brought together for a special one-off performance at the Caird Hall. It was a great experience for both singers and the audience who enjoyed a wonderful range of pieces from the group. This year the Chorus will be re-formed; applications will be open to all of those who were in the choir last year and anyone else who would like the chance to perform at a Last Night of the Proms concert. Previous singing experience will not be required, just plenty of enthusiasm and time to attend rehearsals. Numbers are limited so applications will be accepted on a first come first served basis. Details on how to apply will be announced later in the year.

With the event expected to move to a different location next year demand in Dundee and the surrounding area is bound to be high. Tickets cost £10 each. Any tickets not sold in advance will be on sale on the night for £12 each. For further details and ticket application please contact: Dundee City Box Office – 01382 434940 and online at Information can also be found on Tickets will go on sale Wednesday 20 April 2011.

For those who can’t make it to Dundee, the first half of the event can be seen live on BBC Two Scotland from 7.30pm; schedule may vary. Coverage can also be found on Radio Scotland. The Dundee Proms Chorus and the Caird Hall audience will also be featured live on the BBC One coverage from the Royal Albert Hall during the nationwide singalong.

BBC Scotland’s Head of News and Current Affairs, Atholl Duncan, is leaving the corporation to take up a role as Executive Director, UK and Global for ICAS – the professional body for accountants.

Duncan, who has been in charge of the BBC’s Scottish news operation since December 2006, will start his new job after overseeing BBC Scotland’s coverage of the Scottish Election.

He first joined the corporation in 1984 and worked in a variety of senior news roles; leaving to join Scottish Water as Director of Corporate Affairs before returning to BBC Scotland as Head of NCA in 2006.

In the past four years, he has helped deliver some of the highest audiences for Reporting Scotland in the last decade and driven up audiences for online news from 800,000 to 2.3 million. He also oversaw a period of increased audience satisfaction and reach for BBC News in Scotland and was instrumental in creating an award-winning investigations unit.

BBC Scotland Director, Ken MacQuarrie, paid tribute to Duncan’s commitment and professionalism: “Atholl has played a key role in delivering high quality journalism for our audiences, however they choose to consume it. Under his stewardship, our news team has won a string of awards and we wish him well in his new role.”

Atholl Duncan said: “It has been a pleasure and a privilege to lead the BBC’s journalism in Scotland. This has been a period during which the news team has delivered significant improvements in our coverage. Audience figures have increased and audience satisfaction has improved. Our ambition is to deliver the best journalism in the world. Over the past four and half years we have taken significant steps towards that ambitious goal.”

Following Duncan’s departure, John Boothman will become Acting Head of News and Current Affairs until the role is filled on a permanent basis.

BBC Scotland’s coverage of the 2011 Scottish Parliament election is geared up to bring the latest news and views from communities across Scotland.

The broadcaster’s news teams will be out and about, breaking the latest election news and giving voters the chance to question candidates about the issues that matter to them – on television, radio and online.

On Radio Scotland, Brian Taylor’s Big Debate is stopping at towns and cities from Ardrishaig to the Borders during the election campaign.

Audiences will be debating the local and national issues live with a panel of candidates which will be chaired by BBC Scotland’s Political Editor.

In addition, the station will be bringing a series of Big Election Debates from around the country chaired by regional-based BBC reporters.

Voters will be able to put their local candidates on the spot in the hour-long programmes which will come from Melrose, Aberdeen, Dumfries and Inverness.

A list of the towns and cities where the Radio Scotland debates will be taking place can be found at the bottom of the release.

Televised debates will also feature in BBC Scotland’s comprehensive coverage. On Sunday 17 April, on BBC One Scotland at 10.35pm, the big issue under the spotlight will be the economy at BBC Scotland’s headquarters at Pacific Quay.

On Sunday 1 May, also on BBC One Scotland at 10.35pm, The Leaders’ Debate, from the Concert Hall in Perth, will show the leaders of the four main parties fielding questions from the electors in the final week of the campaign.

Throughout the campaign the teams from Good Morning Scotland on Radio Scotland and Reporting Scotland and Newsnight Scotland on TV will also be reporting from around the country, bringing the latest poll news and in-depth analysis.

On election night and the following day, all the final twists and turns of the 2011 election will be reported as they happen on TV, radio and online.

Atholl Duncan, Head of News and Current Affairs, BBC Scotland, said: “We will be providing extensive coverage every step of the way – from the big talking points, through breaking news to the final countdown when we will bring the results as they happen.”




Radio Scotland

Brian Taylor’s Big Debate – 1 April, Ardrishaig; 8 April, Livingston; 15 April, Coldstream; 22 April, Glasgow; 29 April, Edinburgh. Each programme will transmit at 12.05 pm.

The Big Election Debate – 11 April, Melrose; 18 April, Aberdeen; 25 April, Dumfries; 2 May, Inverness. Each programme will transmit at 1.05pm.



Sunday 17 April, BBC One Scotland 10.25-11.25pm, The Big Economy Debate.

Sunday 1 May, BBC One Scotland 10.25-11.25pm, The Leaders Debate.

From the close of polls on Thursday 5 May to the final results on the afternoon of Friday 6 May, BBC Scotland will be first with the election news on radio, TV and online – with nearly 24 hours of live coverage as the final votes are counted to reveal who has won the Scottish Election 2011.

An ambitious project to bring the process of decay “to life” is set to be launched this summer by BBC Scotland for BBC Four.

A full-scale, typical kitchen and garden, contained in a purpose-built box, is planned to go on display to visitors at Edinburgh Zoo in August.

Visitors – at the event or online – will be able to witness everyday foods and substances decompose over a two month period in a compelling life-size demonstration of one of nature’s most fundamental but least understood processes.

Events in the box will be recorded using the latest technology in time-lapse photography and microscopy for a feature-length programme on BBC Four later in the year. The programme is a co-production with Discovery and BBC Worldwide, and will be screened internationally.

Presenting the programme is Oxford University’s Dr George McGavin (Lost Land Of The Tiger), who says: “What myself and the team want to do is reveal the extraordinary science of decay .Nature’s ability to recycle the building blocks of life is often overlooked but this process is central to the survival of every species on the planet – without it there would be no cycle of life. I want to show the viewers just how beautiful, elegant and essential the processes of decomposition really are.”

The sealed 6m x 6m box is to be constructed by specialist engineers in an enclosed lecture hall, with input from expert scientific consultants. Only approved BBC personnel will be allowed to enter the box, via a double-door system, for filming purposes.

Events in the box will be augmented with specially shot documentary pieces for the programme that explore the wider aspects of decomposition and our attitudes to it. There will also be support for the project from BBC Learning.

Richard Klein, Controller BBC Four, says: “From death comes life. It is a classic contradiction of nature. And our new Afterlife science event offers viewers the chance to observe the compelling and extraordinary world of decay and decomposition to rebirth and new life in vivid, full colour, up-close detail. The fact that we are able to open the process up through an exhibition at Edinburgh Zoo, putting BBC Four at the heart of cultural life, is an added bonus.”

Marcus Herbert, Executive Producer of Afterlife, says: “This innovative broadcasting project is one that the public can really engage with – either at the site or via time-lapse updates online – and we hope they’ll find it as fascinating as we do.”

Iain Valentine, Director of Animals Education and Conservation at the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, comments: “We’re very excited about housing this extraordinary project in the public area of Edinburgh Zoo’s Budongo House. As decay is an essential component of all life on earth, we felt the zoo was the perfect location to explore the process.”

Adapated from the popular Denise Mina novel, and written and directed by David Kane (Taggart, Rebus, Sea Of Souls), The Field Of Blood, made by Slate North through BBC Scotland, is the latest drama to be filmed and set in Scotland, announced today by Anne Mensah, Head of Drama, Scotland and Head of Independent Drama.

Set in Glasgow, 1982, crime drama The Field Of Blood centres on would-be journalist Paddy Meehan, a young copygirl working in a newspaper office.

Stuck in an almost exclusively male-dominated world of limited opportunities and cynicism, Paddy dreams of becoming an investigative journalist – believing that in miscarriages of justice, reporters are sometimes the only hope.

Funny, smart, and feisty, Paddy seizes an opportunity to kick start her career and becomes embroiled in a dark murder case. For Paddy, it’s the opportunity of a lifetime but comes at great personal cost…

Filming on The Field Of Blood, a thrilling investigative drama, begins in October with casting to be announced in the coming weeks. The drama will transmit on BBC One Scotland in 2011.

Written and directed by David Kane and made by Slate North, The Field Of Blood will be produced by Willy Wands (River City, Rebus, The Magdalene Sisters). Executive producers are Andrea Calderwood (The Last King Of Scotland, Generation Kill) for Slate North, Gaynor Holmes for BBC Scotland and Leslie Finley for Creative Scotland.

The Field Of Blood was commissioned by Ewan Angus, Commissioning Editor, Scotland.

Gaynor Holmes, executive producer, BBC Scotland says: “Andrea, David and Willie are a stellar team and it’s wonderful working with them again. In Paddy, Denise Mina has created a captivating, warm and funny character whom David Kane has beautifully brought to life in this TV adaptation. I’m certain the audience will fall in love with her.”

Andrea Calderwood, adds: “I’m delighted BBC Scotland and Creative Scotland are backing us to make this original new TV drama. Denise Mina is a fantastic crime writer and David Kane is one of Scotland’s most talented writer-directors – the combination of them and the great team we’re working with is shaping up to make The Field of Blood a really attention-grabbing and entertaining show.”

Caroline Parkinson, Creative Director, Creative Scotland, said: “Creative Scotland is delighted to be working with Andrea Calderwood at Slate North and BBC Scotland, in bringing to life the first of the Paddy Meehan series, The Field of Blood by Denise Mina to Scottish audiences. A gripping two-part thriller, it will be set and filmed in Glasgow and Creative Scotland hopes that this marks the first in a long series from this impressive team.”

The Field Of Blood follows in the footsteps of distinctive drama from BBC Scotland including Case Histories (BBC One), Young James (BBC One), Single Father (BBC One), The Deep (BBC One), Lip Service (BBC Three), One Night In Emergency (BBC One Scotland), River City (BBC One Scotland), Waterloo Road (BBC One) and Wallander (BBC One).

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